After Babel

I How do you read? In posing this question, I have in mind the Surrealists’ question of 1919: “Why do you write?” But this time around the question is about reading. Weren’t the Surrealists also great readers? In André Breton’s Anthology of Black Humor, didn’t he turn his readings of Lautréamont, Roussel, Arthur Cravan, Leonora Carrington, and Alfred Jarry into full-fledged literary performances? And what are we to make of Borges, the late-arriving Surrealist, so enamored of the fantastic and of artifice, seeking out the algebra of dreams and the key to cities, and maintaining thirty years later that the only history that counts is not that of literature but that of reading. Books are immobile, he said, compact, closed in on themselves, identical. And the only things that change over time, and thus make history, are the ways we read them. And what are we to think of his

Thank you for reading!

To continue reading this article you must be a subscriber and be logged in to this site. If you already have a subscription, please log in now.